An unexpected meeting took place Thursday evening between new Knesset Member Moshe Feiglin
and representatives of Israel's
gay community at the gay youth center
in Tel Aviv.
The ultra-rightist Likud-Beiteinu
MK who had previously made offensive statements towards the gay community used the opportunity to declare: "I'm not a homophobe."
"I was an almost an historic evening," Feiglin said after the meeting. "I see myself not as the spokesman of gays and lesbians or any other sector including the settlers but the champion of freedom and human rights."
Feiglin at Tel Aviv's Barnoar gay youth center (Photo: Yaron Brener)
The MK explained that he makes a distinction between championing human rights and preserving the unique status of "the normative family and its values."
During the meeting, the gay community leaders raised issues of discrimination in surrogacy, marriage and conversion and discussed violence against religious gays.
Feiglin on his part said that the state must grant organizations such as the gay youth a status equal to that of any charity organization.
The Likud-Beiteinu MK revealed that a conversation with the gay son of a friend had brought home for him the adversity of the gay community.
'Momentous occaison' (Photo: Yaron Brener)
He added that while he opposes homosexual intercourse in the same way as he rejects other acts prohibited by the Jewish religion such as lighting fire on Shabbat, he still respects the rights of gays. "I shall fight for you if your rights are undermined," he pledged.
Feiglin noted he would back an initiative to ban any discrimination of students based on sexual orientation.
Shai Deutsch, chairman of the GLBT Association in Israel, said that the meeting's greatest achievement was its very existence; "the fact that he came to listen and be heard.
"Other than that it's obvious to us he won't endorse gay marriage or surrogacy for gay couples but we have his support in any other area our rights are undermined, and that's an achievement in itself."
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